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5 Georgia defenders poised for a breakout season
Georgia loses seven defensive starters from last season, a fact that is cause for some concern. How much concern, however, remains to be seen.
Although there’s plenty of youth and inexperience on Georgia’s 2018 defense, there’s also a wealth of talent. The Bulldogs have plenty of players capable of stepping up and keeping the defense as good as it expects to be.
Here are five players ready to make a difference:
- Monty Rice, inside linebacker: Rice was quietly one of the most impressive freshmen on the team last season. He wasn’t as quiet at G-Day, where he racked up a game-leading 14 tackles. Roquan Smith was the team’s leading tackler the last two years, so now someone else has to claim that mantle. My money’s on Rice.
- Richard LeCounte III, free safety: Kirby Smart stayed on top of LeCounte all spring. The good news is it means Smart expects a lot from the rising sophomore. The better news is that LeCounte responded with a stellar G-Day performance, picking off Jake Fromm once and nearly snagging another.
- D’Andre Walker, outside linebacker: Somehow, despite being second on the team in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (13.5), Walker flew under the radar last season. But with the departures of Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy freeing up a lot of snaps at outside linebacker, the rising senior has a chance to take it to the next level and become Georgia’s pass-rusher extraordinaire.
- Julian Rochester, nose tackle: John Atkins was a solid presence at nose for years, but his role — eat blocks and open lanes — was limited. Rochester is significantly more athletic than Atkins as well as a more capable rusher. Rochester will provide Georgia with a more attacking and explosive presence in the center of the defensive than it’s had in some time.
- Brenton Cox, outside linebacker/defensive end: Maybe it’s a hunch — or maybe it’s the fact that he was a 5-star recruit and ranked 23rd overall in his class — but I think Cox is poised for an outstanding freshman year. He’s uber talented, has a build ready-made for the SEC and the versatility to play multiple positions. There’s a strong sense he’ll end 2018 as a major factor on the defense and the best freshman on the team.
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Andy Johnson, DGD
Former Georgia quarterback and Athens native Andy Johnson has died after a long illness. He was 65.
Johnson played football and baseball at Georgia from 1971-73 before going on to a nine-year NFL career as a running back for the New England Patriots. A two-sport star as well as a versatile player on the gridiron, Johnson’s widely considered one of the greatest athletes in UGA sports history.
Heavy heart today, with the passing of one of my childhood favorites, former Athens HS, UGA & @Patriots star Andy Johnson. I'm going to miss him. Andy made a huge positive impact on me. Thoughts & prayers to his family. @UGAAthletics @680TheFan
— buck belue (@buckbelue8) May 16, 2018
So sorry to hear of the passing of Bulldogs QB great Andy Johnson, a classmate of mine from junior high on. One of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and a great athlete. My sincerest condolences to his family. #ugafootball
— Junkyard Blawg (@junkyardbillk) May 16, 2018
Rest In Peace Andy Johnson, one of the kindest gentlemen and all time great Bulldog quarterback and athlete. Erk Russell once told me he was the best QB during his time in Athens. A true elite. Yet so humble. @ChipTowersDN @960theref
— Jeff Dantzler (@jeffdantzlertv) May 16, 2018
With six players selected, including three in the first round, Georgia had an excellent 2018 NFL Draft. There’s a good chance the Bulldogs will produce another impressive draft class next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.
In a recent post for NFL.com, Chase Goodbread ranked Georgia No. 5 on his list of seven college football teams that could be next to dominate NFL draft.
[Jake] Fromm’s ascension as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks is emblematic of how quickly the quarterback landscape can change in college football. At the beginning of last season, Jacob Eason was considered the Bulldogs’ star of the future at the position. By season’s end, Fromm had UGA playing for a national title and Eason subsequently transferred to Washington. Those that watched Georgia closely last year know that despite the draft losses of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, the running back position remains in good hands with [D’Andre] Swift, who averaged a whopping 7.6 yards per carry last year on 81 rushes. As true sophomores, Swift and Fromm won’t be draft eligible in 2019, so Georgia’s next chance for draft dominance might be 2020. Fromm has a pair of quality receiving targets in [Terry] Godwin and [Riley] Ridley, the younger brother of Atlanta Falcons first-round pick Calvin Ridley.
Odds & Ends
- Smart had amazing response after Alabama fans needled him at golf tournament
- Smart shares his favorite hole at Augusta National, common trait with Jordan Spieth
- WATCH: Documentary follows Nick Chubb leading up to NFL draft
- Smart reveals why Fromm never relinquished starting job to Jacob Eason
Dawgs on Twitter
Last month, we hosted #MoreThanMySport : A Women’s Initiative. Our @UGAAthletics student-athletes had the privilege of hearing from @MariaTaylor7, @Dstoreysg, Dr. Leah Brown, and Jill Walton. Watch the full length recap at https://t.co/KI5s14P5ev pic.twitter.com/aIB9F1UM6F
— The Georgia Way (@TheGeorgiaWay) May 16, 2018
A bit ago, @billbarnwell posted this for the NFL, so here’s red zone differential for the 2017 CFB season.
Offensive pts scored per RZ visit minus defensive pts allowed per visit pic.twitter.com/5tEaqOzXYK
— The Solid Verbal (@SolidVerbal) May 16, 2018
Someone assist my dude here.
dogs are so intelligent that they can assist the blind with daily tasks.
(camilla_andersen91 IG) pic.twitter.com/SGrXmH7snD
— Clint Falin (@ClintFalin) May 16, 2018
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